Now in its fifth year the Red Cross / NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program continues to inspire, motivate and create a new and diverse generation of Red Cross volunteers and leaders through exemplifying the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program. These core values are integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

As part of its support of the Red Cross diversity initiatives, State Farm Insurance is sponsoring this partnership. The program recently kicked off in Washington, D.C. where NAIA student-athletes will participate in two weeks of energetic training at the Red Cross National Headquarters (June 6-17).

Click here to learn more about the 2011-12 class for the Red Cross / NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program.

Student-athletes in the program will be blogging throughout their D.C. stay…

BLOG POST #12: Brian Boyle = Inspiration, by Julie Teeple, Columbia College (Mo.)
Today started off as a normal day in D.C.: wake up, get ready for work, and walk a block from Potomac House to the Red Cross building for another day in the office. From 9 am to noon we worked on our strategic plans that we will be presenting on Friday. Other than an occasional goldfish or two being thrown across the room in an attempt to make it into someone’s mouth, it was a solid day’s work in the office.  The best part of the day, and what everyone had been looking forward to all week, was lunch with Brian Boyle. Not only because it involves food, but we got to meet an amazing man who happens to be a blood donor recipient with a mind-blowing story.

On July 6, 2004, one month after his high school graduation, Brian Boyle was on his way home from swim practice like any normal teenager, when a dump truck plowed into his car. Brian’s body was damaged head to toe. He lost over sixty percent of his blood, his organs were crushed, and his heart shifted to the opposite side of his chest.  Immediately he was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital for what would include multiple surgeries, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, and a journey of what would either be life-ending or life-changing. Brian actually died and was brought back to life 8 times during his recovery. After being in a medically-induced coma, Brian knew that to come through this on the other side he had to do something.  Daily he would work toward miniature goals, like moving his toes.  Soon the wiggling of toes turned into the blinking of eyes, sitting, standing, walking, eating, and talking.  Brian has one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports known to man. Today, he not only walks and talks, but competes in Ironman competitions across the nation. Yes, you read correctly…Ironman competitions: 2.4 miles of intense swimming, 112 miles of treacherous biking, and to finish, 26.2 miles of running. Brian realized that he would not be alive today if it hadn’t been for the blood he received from the American Red Cross, so beginning in

Brian Boyle (center) shares his story with NAIA student-athletes.

2007, he decided to give back and become an avid blood donor and volunteer for them. He recently launched a campaign with the Red Cross to promote recognition of donor stories like his own.

Hearing Brian’s story was not only motivational, but inspirational. These past two weeks in D.C. have been amazing and life-changing. I came to D.C. with the intentions of making a difference in people’s lives and becoming educated with what the Red Cross does, but the funny thing is, I myself have been changed by this experience. This program is not only an experience to see the beautiful city and hear from top Red Cross members, but also an experience to learn new things about yourself. I wish I could have gone more in depth about Brian Boyle because he has an amazing story and he is an amazing person, but if you interested in hearing the whole story, you can look him up on YouTube or read his book Iron Heart

BLOG POST #11: Wowzers!, by Hannah Martin, Central Christian College (Kan.)
WOW! WOW! WOW…what a fantastic day today was!!! I am Hannah Martin from Eugene, Missouri. I attend Central Christian College in McPherson, Kansas where I am studying Sports Management and I play softball. I would love to start by saying what a great time I am having here in D.C. This is an amazing program and opens up some opportunities to us as student-athletes.

This morning we started the day off by meeting at the Red Cross headquarters and walked to the White House.  At check-in we had to show proper identification. We had two people that got sent to the “pen” (that’s the holding place if your name wasn’t on the list). Come to find out the two finally made it in. The reason they were sent to the “pen” was because one had the name wrong and the others birthday was wrong. So needless to say it is very tough to get in. Once we finally got inside we went on a self-guided tour through the East Room, Green Room, Red Room, Blue Room and State Dining Room. The East Room is the largest room in the White House. Here they have receptions, ceremonies, press conferences, and other events.  The next three rooms are pretty self-explanatory. The Green Room is green, the Red Room is red, and I bet you can’t guess the last one. That’s right, the Blue Room is blue. These rooms are used for personal greetings with the first family. The last room we went through was the State Dining Room. In this room we met a very nice secret service man who was interested in why we were in Washington D.C. We talked to him for close to 30 minutes. He was very nice and even gave some of the group his business card. To finish off the tour we headed out the front doors. We were told while there that Mrs. Obama was upstairs and President Obama was in the Oval Office.

Go Cards!

After we finished the tour of the White House we hopped on the Metro and off to Capitol Hill we went. We were greeted there by Chelsea and Sarah that worked in the Congressman Hal Roger’s (Ky.) office. They lead us on a tour of the Capitol. While on this tour we got to sit in the Senate chamber and listen to Senator Al Franken from Minnesota discuss the use of smart phones and privacy. He was the only Senator in there at the time. We wrapped up the afternoon by eating dinner in the House of Representatives cafeteria.

From there we jumped back on the metro and headed back to George Washington University, where we are staying, to get ready for the best night ever! We meet Brian Hamil at the Metro stop and were off to the Nationals game. They were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. Well, we arrived at the stadium and we had received passes to be on the field during batting practice. That’s right I said ON THE FIELD!!! I was in baseball heaven. Being from Missouri I am obviously a HUGE Cardinals fan. I was the only one in the group wearing a Cardinals shirt and hat. It was the best feeling ever to be within reaching distance of some of the best baseball players. We all had prepared and brought sharpies and items for some of the players to sign. While I was watching batting practice it was hard to snap pictures because I was shaking so bad because I just could not believe I was actually on the field. I was just standing there taking in the moment and up walked Jon Jay, the Cardinals left fielder. He signed a baseball that I had picked up off the field. Then moments later over came Tyler Greene, a Cardinals infielder, he too signed the baseball I had. Then right

Go George Go!

after that Ryan Theriot, Cardinals infielder, came over and signed as well. Then Colby Rasmus, Cardinals center fielder, followed him. It was so awesome to be on the field and watching them warm-up. After being down there for about an hour and half we had to go to our seats. We were sitting on the 1st base side halfway between 1st base and the right fielder. We had great seats. The evening was perfect. The weather was absolutely amazing. As we were sitting in our seats we managed to make it on the jumbotron twice. That was another highlight of the night. In between an inning they had a presidential race and of course Mr. George Washington won. Even though the Cardinals definitely had a terrible night and lost 10 to 0 it was one of the best nights in my life. Being surrounded with new friends and making memories that will never be forgotten. This trip is a trip of a lifetime. Thanks everyone for reading and always remember donating blood can save up to three lives!

BLOG POST #10: Tuesday, by Whitney Sweet, Taylor University (Ind.)

The NAIA's Lori Thomas and Kristin Gillette with the 2011 class

Today was filled with excitement, innovation, and many laughs.  We had the pleasure of having Lori Thomas, the NAIA’s Senior Vice President for Membership and Character Initiatives present with us for the morning session.  We were introduced to the concept of innovation.  We were split up into four groups and we were given concept cards. We were to brainstorm ideas that in the future would help to grow student-athletes’ knowledge of the NAIA and Champion’s of Character. Our groups did a wonderful job of thinking outside the box. We used each other as a source of new ideas and we were very creative.  Lori seemed to be very pleased with our ideas!

Later that afternoon we had pizza for lunch and then as a group headed over to The American Red Cross building on 17th Street.  Tim O’Malley, an expert in diversity awareness and cultural competence, greeted us.  We spent the next four hours improving our diversity skills through many different activities.  Our eyes and minds were opened in a way that many of us had never seen.  We learned how to ask strategic questions, and learned the five different levels of reacting to others – appreciation, acceptance, tolerance, avoidance, and repulsion.  The training was very interactive from the use of flip charts, games, and role-playing.  Tim helped us to understand our blood drives and the problems we might face in ways we had never thought of.

For dinner that night, Brian treated our group to “Five Guys.”  Everyone ordered burgers and fries and we had a great time hanging out, and talking about all the amazing ideas we came up with earlier that day. This trip is not only teaching me about the value of others, and myself but it is teaching me about the organization of the American Red Cross, and the purpose that it serves for our nation.  I came into this program thinking that I would have a good time, but I never dreamed that I would learn so much and walk away with amazing new friends.

BLOG POST #9: Monday!, by Devon Golden, Georgetown College (Ky.)
Today was the first of our two day session with the NAIA!  Beginning with introductions, we heard from Kristen Gillette, Director of Champions of Character, and Lori Thomas, Senior Vice President for Membership and Character Initiatives.  These two ladies totally have it together! Our morning consisted mainly of our discussion regarding the five core values of the Champions of Character Program. We all brought forth our thoughts and comments involving: Integrity – what you’re doing when no one else is looking; Respect – treating others as you would want to be treated; Responsibility – social force that binds me to the good of the team; Sportsmanship – following the rules, spirit, and etiquette of the game; Servant leadership – serving the greater good while focusing on the team’s mission and purpose.  We hope to further these initiatives on our teams and campuses in order to better our athletes, students, and communities.

Number one? If you say so!

Along with the Champions of Character component of the morning, we spent time on building leadership and working as a group.  Some teambuilding activities helped to illustrate the difficulty of maintaining the five core values when in the heat of competition.  To further illustrate that, I would just like to say team number two dominated the rope challenge with a time of 27 seconds, and we’re number one!  Just kidding…but seriously, good hustle team one.  Working in groups to complete some simple tasks helped stress the importance of communication and initiative in order to succeed.

After lunch Jon Lehrman, Donor Resources Development Manager for the Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region, spent his time with us in education and discussion about the aspects involved in donor recruitment and the many problems/solutions that correlate.  Aside from his professional insight, Jon is so fun and we have really loved having him here so far!!!  We got to leave “the office” early following his talk, so that we could get ready for our evening with the big shots.

At 5 pm we all made our way to the Board of Governors Hall for the reception in our honor.  For the first part of the evening, we all mingled with the Red Cross executives (some whom we had previously met, others who were new to us).  Shortly after most of them had arrived, we briefly introduced ourselves and Cassandra Kramer and Randon McNeil provided short statements regarding our time in D.C. so far.  I will take this moment to brag on Cassandra and Randon: They did an awesome job representing our group and were very well-spoken as well as concise. The evening ended nicely with some more conversation, as well as some awesome food. 

This experience has easily exceeded what I had expected coming here a week ago.  The time has gone by so fast! I couldn’t have hoped for a better group with which to go through this program, and I know that I have 15 new, amazing friends. I never would have dreamed that I would be here with such a fun-loving, motivated, and genuine-hearted group. In less than two weeks we have already made so many memories and I’m sure there are more to come.  I can’t wait for what the next few days brings for our future in the Red Cross and in the real world!

BLOG POST #8: Sunday, Funday!, by Rachel Blonski, Carlow University (Pa.)
Today was the first day since we arrived in DC that we didn’t have a jam packed agenda! We were all free to do whatever we pleased for the entire day, until we met for dinner and had the pleasure of sharing the evening with Kristen Gillette from the NAIA, her husband, Brandon, and their adorable baby boy, Benton! 

During the day we broke into smaller groups to partake in various activities. Some attended church in Georgetown followed by Chipotle for lunch. After that we went our separate ways, some hitting the pool to work on their tans, while others went to the National Cathedral.  A few groups travelled to Arlington National Cemetery and concluded the day with a shopping trip at Pentagon City Mall. Another group set out for the Smithsonian museums and a meal at the Hard Rock Café. Some student-athletes spent their free time catching up on some zzz’s; something that we have sacrificed this trip because we stay up so late talking and laughing with each other. These different plans brought us all back to the dorms to share our experiences before we got ready for dinner.

During dinner, we shared delicious pizza from the Italian-style restaurant called Bertucci’s. We concluded our evening at our go-to ice cream place Cone E. Island! This ice cream parlor always gets us dancing because there is music while you are walking into the parlor (this is an awesome idea if you ask me! It lets the group show off their zumba skills!).  I think this is partially why we love this place so much. That and the fact that Cameron received his nickname the “Ice Cream Man” there because he has eaten ice cream every day this trip! It also helps that their ice cream is DELICIOUS, which is why we have gone there so much!  Once we were finished, we headed back to the dorms, parting from Kristen, Brian Hamil and Jennifer Lourie.  While we were relaxing in our dorms, we spent some time chair racing and laughing with one another, which has been a typical night time activity since we’ve been here.

I’m so surprised how close this group has become. We are like a little family. We get along so well with each other, and I can’t believe we only have one week left! This program has been an experience of a lifetime, and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to share this with such an awesome group of people! The memories I have will stay with me for a lifetime, and I can’t wait to spend next week with these wonderful student-athletes. I have learned so much about myself, and I know that what I have learned from the various speakers and from the other student leaders will be helpful to me when I go back to my campus and as I continue on in life. This has been an excellent opportunity, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible for me to be a participant in this program!

BLOG POST #7: It’s Saturday!, by Stephanie Belokon, Judson University (Ill.)  
Today was our tour of DC! We started the day off at 9:30 am, and as a group we headed to the Metro. Going on the Metro with the group is always an experience because we don’t want anyone to get stuck in the doors.  Once we went on the Metro we took it to Union Station and that is where our tour began.  At Union Station we met Jennifer Lourie, and learned about how Union Station once shut down for a period of time and was almost raised when the advent of air travel caused the decline of train use.   Union Station was beautiful with its gold leaf coffered ceiling and had so much history throughout it.  After this we made our way to the Library of Congress, while learning about monumental marks along the way like the Supreme Court and the Statue of Armed Freedom on top of the Capitol who faces east because “the sun should never set on freedom.”  Once we finished here we took pictures in front of the Capitol by the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial as a group, and then headed to the National Gallery of Art for lunch. As we walked through the gallery some of us “interpreted” the art work.  This was mostly Cameron and Winston reenacting the art and it was a funny scene to watch!  Once we left the gallery we went to the Holocaust Museum.  The museum was very sad, but I am very glad we were able to go and experience the museum.  Our last part of the tour was going to the Old Post Office.  At the Post Office we went up an elevator, and when we reached the top we were able to see all of DC.  It was beautiful to see because you could see for miles, all the way to the National Cathedral.  After this the tour was over we all decided to do our own things. Some of us went shopping at Pentagon City mall, while others went back to the dorm.  I went to the mall and had a blast!  Today was a great day and all of us got to truly see the beauty of Washington, DC.

The Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program has been one of the best experiences of my life!  We have learned so much about the Red Cross and how to have a successful blood drive on campus. I have met so many amazing people to whom I hope to say connected for years to come. This experience with the Red Cross is something I will never forget, and I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have been given.  I know that it is going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone when the time comes, but I know we will all have memories that will last a lifetime! 

BLOG POST #6: Day 6, by Cassandra Kramer, Spring Arbor University (Mich.)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

This is a quote that I have not only seen evident here in Washington, DC, but throughout my experience with the American Red Cross.  My name is Cassandra Kramer; I play volleyball for Spring Arbor University, and have been involved with the Red Cross since I was a junior in High School, being an active volunteer on a yearly basis. I have a passion for civic engagement, and making a difference in the lives of others so the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program was the perfect fit for my aspirations and visions.

Today, I was able to intensify my passion and drive to utilize this DC experience by listening to one of our key-note

Brian Hamil, Red Cross National Chair Biomedical Services, and the 2011 class

speakers, Andrea Koslow, the Senior Director of Brand and Creative Marketing for the Red Cross. Andrea not only shared her story of how she ended up at the Red Cross, but she shared her personal testimony to how the Red Cross has directly helped her family and saved the life of her daughter.  Coming from a position of working with celebrities for various non-profits, she captivated our attention while sharing stories of meeting Blake Shelton (with a mullet), as well as Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. As a huge country fan myself, my eyes were opened to the impact a celebrity is capable of making when using their fame for a good cause, especially when raising awareness.

Our world continually feeds us bad news about the world, how the economy is in the tank, and how it is an impossible job market; but rarely do we see stories about celebrities giving back, or charities partnering with the idols of millions of Americans, for a noble cause. Andrea continued to explain how she has worked with many other celebrities in various marketing campaigns of the Red Cross to gain national recognition of the Red Cross and to continue its relevance as it serves to change our world.

Andrea Koslow's daughter who received a life-saving blood transfusion

As Andrea’s heart was poured out about her daughter receiving a life-saving blood transfusion, our eyes began to tear up with emotion, and also pride for what the Red Cross can do, and does on a daily basis…SAVING LIVES. From that point on, I learned that what I am doing is not only making me develop and grow into a stronger person, but I am learning the value of organizations such as the Red Cross, and the vital service it provides our nation.

Although this trip has been a blast, educational, and an incredible opportunity, it has given me so much more to take back to my campus and to apply to my blood drive initiative. So yes, I know for a fact that we, as the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Class of 2011, will make a difference on our campuses, in our communities, and in this world, one blood donor at a time!

Thanks for reading, and hold on for tomorrow’s blog about our tour of DC!  -Cassandra Kramer

BLOG POST #5: Day 5, by Randon McNeil, Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Ohio)
Today we were lucky enough to have Twila Huddlestone from Window Three Leadership present to us. The first topic she covered was change. As students, athletes, and Red Cross Ambassadors change is something that we will always be facing. A key point she made about change was- what are we doing to build strong relationships in our personal and professional lives? To me this is something that we can never truly achieve, but it is something we can always improve. We will be meeting many new faces through our work with the Red Cross and it is important to make good impressions and to build relationships. Another key point from change was- What are you working on? This can apply to many different aspects of life and it was a good question to think about. It makes you organize your thoughts and think about where you want to go with your life.

Next she shared about choices. We always have choices to make and she reminded us that the choices we make display the habits we have in our lives. We focused on how to make different choices that can enhance the emotional impact we have on people.

After choices we learned about taking control. This is something we all will be faced with when we return to our campuses. We are responsible for taking control of the blood drives on our respective campuses and making them successful. A key quote we learned was, “If you aren’t making an impact on your life…then your life is making an impact on you.” It was good food for thought. I could tell a lot of us had critical thinking going on during her presentation about where we could apply the truths we were learning.

Hello from DC!

Next up was self-importance vs. self worth. We learned the difference between the two and it was a nice reality check for me personally. We learned about how to set measurable, time constrained, and achievable goals.

The final two topics we covered were objectivity and fear vs. confidence. Both proved to be very thought provoking and we were able to identify some constraints we faced and ways to overcome them. We all have subjective fears, but we cannot let those hold us back from doing great things.

We were joined at lunch by Dr. Benjamin, the chief medical officer for the Red Cross. He shared with us about the preparations we should make pre-donation and how we should approach our activities after we donate. As athletes, there are certain restrictions we must adhere to to prevent ourselves from passing out or losing performance. He was very informative and had a sweet South African accent.

Donating blood and saving lives!

After our day with Window Three Leadership we had a few members of our group donate blood. Hannah, Caitie, Cameron, Devon, and Stephanie all donated. Up to 15 lives were saved! When the rest of our group goes in to donate later on this week, I believe they will be very happy to see us. We also had the privilege of meeting a man donating his 185th unit of blood! That equals out to 23 gallons. It was awesome to see someone so committed who stuck with something that mattered to him. Kind of crazy to think about what we all can do if we stick to our goals! The sky is the limit!

We finished the evening with a trip to Baja Fresh for dinner and then grabbed some ice cream. We were planning on visiting the Georgetown waterfront, but an evening thunderstorm halted that. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise however, some of us went out and played ultimate Frisbee in a green space after the storm and the rest just hung out and got things done. It was a good night to catch up as we prepare for a great weekend.

I can’t say enough about the people we are meeting both in the group and through the Red Cross. They make us feel like we are worth a million bucks and I will never forget the experiences we are sharing. 

Students met with Red Cross President & CEO Gail McGovern

BLOG POST #4: Day 4, by Lauren Buckles, Ottawa University (Kan.) 
Today we began our third day at the American Red Cross Headquarters (fourth day in DC) by working on our group projects. My group went out into the streets and interviewed different people asking if they give blood or not. I was extremely surprised by many different people’s answers.

After working on our projects we listened to a speaker who spoke about Blood 101. She basically gave us a lesson on what blood is, what it does and how the American Red Cross uses blood to save lives. We had lunch with Greg Ballish, the Senior Vice President of Biomedical Sales and Marking and he just got to know each of us and talked about his journey in the Red Cross.

NAIA student-athletes visit the Red Cross headquarters (Washington, DC)

A major impact on me personally today was our speaker after lunch, Jan Hale the Communications Director for the South Central Division of the Red Cross. She was an absolutely remarkable woman. She had such great energy and enthusiasm for the Red Cross and she truly has the passion for the job. She spoke to us about creating our own story in the Red Cross that we can share back at our campuses to get everyone involved. What really impacted me most was when she said that when recruiting we have to have attitude, focus, perseverance and belief. If we have all of those together we will succeed in this program and will make a major difference in the lives of others.

After Jan, Cameron Branock spoke about his journey in the American Red Cross. He started out in this program and absolutely loved it. He used to think that he had to go to medical school, hence the name “Cam the Chem Man.” However, after experiencing all the Red Cross had to offer through being involved in this program it made him have a change of heart. He then realized that being a part of the Red Cross provided him with just as much satisfaction as being a doctor would. He would be making a difference in millions of people’s lives and saving lives every day. He decided that was enough for him and he now has a great job at the American Red Cross doing what he loves to do. It was a very inspiring story and truly makes me believe that this organization is something I would love to be a part of.

Visiting the World War II Memorial

This whole experience from the speakers, to the sights, to the staff, and most importantly to the people, has been a life changing experience for me. I believe I can speak for many when I say that this experience has provided me with lifetime memories and friends that we would have never been exposed to. I’m truly blessed to be a part of this program and can’t wait to take everything I’ve learned just in these first three days back to my campus to save lives and make a difference!

Thanks for reading!

BLOG POST #3: Day 3, by Genevieve Benson, Grace College
It is our second day at the American Red Cross national headquarters (and third day in DC). We began by going over school blood drive data. This program is amazing and it was really neat to see the results from students in previous years. Cameron Branock, a program participant from the 2008 class who is actually now a Red Cross employee in Indiana is here this week to mentor us, used a quote today from Margaret Mead that said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people could change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Each group that goes through this program is made up of thoughtful and committed people.  I am really appreciating our leaders and how they are investing in us and guiding us through this experience. It is a great example of how we can do the same for our successors!

After we talked, we walked over to 17th Street and got some group pictures taken in front of the Red Cross Head Office Building. It was beautiful. Then we checked out the room where the reception will be held on Monday evening. The historic architecture and the Tiffany stained glass windows were incredible! In a conference room, we met with the President and the CEO of the Red Cross, Gail McGovern. It was great to meet her and she gave us her whole attention, answered our questions, and shared her story and advice with us. She spoke to us about how getting a job is all about chemistry and that career growth is not so much about moving up a ladder, but more of a lattice that one can maneuver. She was very down to earth but professional and it was such an encouragement to talk to her. We all loved that time and it was a definite highlight! 

Chris Hrouda, Biomedical Services’ Executive Vice President and Keith Sherman, Vice President of Biomedical Human Resources and Labor Relations  joined us for a delicious meal for lunch that was kindly organized by Lecia Tilghman, Mr. Hrouda’s executive assistant.  I was able to sit at the table with Keith Sherman. I loved hearing his story as well. So many people we have spoken to have taken such unique journeys before arriving at the Red Cross. Keith went from law school, to a sports agent, to running a sports company, to working for the Red Cross. He was so interested in our passions and he was very engaging.

Cameron Branock and Katie McLintock spoke to us after lunch about their experience running blood drives. They had excellent ideas for recruitment and it was great to see how they found success on their campuses! They had very creative ideas about competitions, cupcakes, and chalking sidewalks! Hearing from them really made me excited about trying new things on my campus. To end the day, we went up to our awesome desks on the 9th floor and thanked our speakers. Each student sent an e-mail to each speaker. We will be typing these thank you e-mails every day and it is a great habit. I am glad to be able to connect and network with all of these amazing people and they seem excited to invest in us and in our futures. We finished off by working some more on our final presentations.

It was a rush to get back to the dorms and into the workout clothes because most of our group didn’t want to miss the Zumba class at the Red Cross Fitness Center. I was content in missing it. I went and worked out anyway, but I’ve tried Zumba once and it wasn’t pretty. It is definitely more fun to watch everyone anyway! They were a sight to see! I think the few Red Cross employees were impressed by our group’s dancing skills. Some of them even continued in the ice cream parlor where we went later in the evening. It had loud music and a disco ball. It was bizarre, but definitely fun and interesting. And the ice cream was delicious.

Our group is great! It feels like it has been a week already with the long days and the closeness of the group! I am excited to get to know everyone more, continue touring DC, and get our plans ready for when we return to our campuses!     

BLOG POST #2: Day 2, by Winston Davenport, Azusa Pacific University
Today was the first official day of the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program and we all walked over to the Red Cross headquarters.  We were then given our official ID badges so we are all officially “rockstars.”  We have met Brian Hamil (National Chair of Biomedical Services), Jennifer Lourie (Project Coordinator), Shaun Gilmore (President of Biomedical Services), Mike Brown (Vice President of Corporate and Foundation Partnerships), Chris Hrouda (Executive Vice President of Biomedical Services), and Jerry DeFrancisco (President of Humanitarian Services).  All of these speakers were incredible and the wisdom they had to share with us was valuable.  What I appreciated most was their efforts to help me resolve the problems at my school with other competing blood collecting organizations.  Mike Brown proposed spreading the story through the school newspaper and administration and his advice will certainly be put into practice.  His advice on being bold and being concise will help make my points effective and I truly believe that they will help me succeed with my future blood drives.  We’ve been introduced to the structure of the Red Cross and so far I must say that it’s all been quite exciting and motivating.  Being in this environment where we are held in such high regard shows our value to the Red Cross.  The work we will do once we return home can truly have an impact and everyone here believes that wholeheartedly.  I certainly look forward to developing successful strategies for coordinating blood drives throughout the next two weeks.

From a tourist’s standpoint, today was absolutely incredible.  We were shown our offices on the ninth floor and the view is astonishing.  We can see the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, and the Potomac River.  The highlight of the day for me was when a few of us went out for a run and we saw President Obama’s motorcade.  To see the commotion of the police escort on Pennsylvania Avenue was slightly shocking because none of us had expected to see the president during our stay here in D.C.  We also went out and saw a few monuments and memorials to kick off our time here.  We have a great schedule planned and our experiences here are truly once in a lifetime opportunities.   

BLOG POST #1: My Journey to DC, by Katie Cunningham
Hi guys!  My name is Caitie Cunningham. I attend Auburn University at Montgomery and play basketball there. I’m from a small town in Tennessee, where life is pretty simple. I am a participant in the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program and through it I have had some incredible opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and experience my first plane ride and the wonderful Washington, DC Metro.

My airplane experience was very eye-opening and a little overpowering.  When I first arrived to the airport in Nashville, I was immediately overwhelmed.  My parents were shoving down every situation that could possibly arise and how I should approach each if a problem arose. The time finally came when I had to take a chance and get ready for this new experience. I went through all the beginning steps and before I knew it, I was on the plane.

There were a few minor bumps along the way. For one, when I was on the plane, I had no idea about the lettering system and how the letters represented each seat. Well, let’s just say I got in the wrong seat and pretty much discombobulated everyone trying to board the plane. However, my plane ride had a happy ending because when I got in the air, I saw one of the most beautiful sites in the world. I was so pumped about being at level with the clouds. Nevertheless, because it was my first ride, I was nervous about breaking the rules so I did everything to prevent the flight attendant from reprimanding me. Therefore, I didn’t take any pictures of the clouds because I wasn’t completely sure about the electronics rules on the plane. (Thankfully I get the opportunity to fly back so I will be taking some pictures of the incredible clouds!) 

My next huge experience was the Metro. After I arrived at Reagan National Airport, I got off the plane and gathered my luggage. I had specific instructions to buy a fare and board the Metro. I had no idea what was in store for this experience, so I just went with it. I followed the instructions and finally got to the Metro. As I looked high and low, I finally saw a lit up sign that was like heaven to me. It had the train route in which I was supposed to take. Though I had just witnessed a glimpse of hope, I was still sort of unsure about myself so I debated for ten minutes about asking one of the locals if he could help me. I finally gave in and approached the man. First, I apologized for continuously staring at him and then explained my desperate situation and how I didn’t have a clue about what I was supposed to be doing. The great man enlightened me and led me to the promised land. We both boarded the train, and his stop was right before mine. He instructed me I would get off next, and I would be set.

When I finally arrived at my stop, I unloaded the Metro with what seemed like my 85 pound bad and headed up two flights of escalators. Right as I began reading the street signs for my journey to the dorm, it’s as if an angel had been sent to me. It was our mentor Katie McLintock!  She called out my name, and it was destiny! It felt like one of those slow motion scenes in the movies where you see your best friend and you’re running to meet them and hug them. I immediately felt like I had known her for my whole life and a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders (no, but literally. Katie took one of my bags off my shoulders).  Overall, these experiences seemed intimidating, but they turned out to be very rewarding. I learned the ins and outs of typical Northern transportation and now am an experienced traveler. This was a very incredible day, and I am so blessed I had the opportunity. 

Stay tuned for daily updates from D.C.!


4 Responses to “The Dish from DC: Red Cross / NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program”

  1. Lori Thomas says:

    Hi Caitie
    Kristin Gillette and I are headed to Washington DC on Sunday! We can’t wait to meet all of you and spend some time talking about the NAIA and Champions of Character. All of you have impressive backgrounds and know you can help the NAIA think about the future and “INNOVATE”
    See you soon.
    Lori Thomas

  2. Kristin Gillette says:

    It’s great reading about your experience and the different lessons you are learning. Eventhough I am presenting it will be fun to see what I learn while there as well! See you all Sunday evening for pizza!

  3. Lori Thomas says:

    Hey ARC leaders!!! I can’t tell you enough how proud I was to meet all of you – as you are some amazing individuals.

    Kristin and I had fun being part of your Washington DC experience.

    Please send us pics, Cassandra!

    Have fun as you come to an end………………


  4. Kristin Gillette says:

    I know your time in DC is coming to an end. :( It is exciting to think about the impact you will have on your team, school, and community when you return! It looks like Wed turned out to be awesome! No surprise there. We had a great time meeting you all. I wish you all a safe return home.